Mt. Angeles (Feb 5, 2012)

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mt_angeles coverConditions: Winter scramble
Gear: Snowshoes or skis, ice axe, crampons, avalanche gear (transceivers, probes, shovels)
Map: USGS Mount Angeles
Area: Olympic National Park
Reference: 75 Scrambles In Washington
Stats: about 4.25mi and 1992' gain RT (~4.5hrs) (I topped out in the gully about 6200' or about 250' below the summit)

Stefan and I headed out to the Olympic Peninsula to try Mt Angeles in late March 2011. We wanted bluebird weather but didn't get it so we did a snowshoe of Hurricane Hill instead. Then...earlier in the week when Stefan sent out the email looking for trip partners for Mt Angeles and the weather was looking great...I and 10 others were eager to join. Up at to R2H to meet the others near the Edmonds Kingston ferry...wait for the others to arrive...shuffle gear and to ferry...some walk on...others drive Stefan in Kingston...reshuffle (read: thin) the passengers and then it was off to the park for an alpine start.

We pulled into a wide parking (~4240') area long the road about 10am. A couple of short car shuttle ferrying 1/2 mile up the road to the start (about 1/4 mile west of the summer TH). Let's see if I can name everyone:

Stefan - snowshoe
Franklin (honey badger) - ski
Carla (dicey) - ski
Julian - snowshoe
Eric (R3H) - snowshoe
Eric (cartman) - snowshoe
Heidi - ski
Mike (iron) - snowshoe
Carrie - ski
Craig (redwic) - snowshoe
Martin (Martin Shetter) - snowshoe
PiB (me) - snowshoe

The plan was to start lower along the road and head straight up for the ridge at and meet up with the trail high up on the ridge at the junction (~ 5400') to the SW of the summit. Skis and snowshoes on the group headed straight uphill making efficient elevation gain, about 775' in the first mile of travel. Steep snow for me. Steepest I've been on in a while. Felt like a lot of work but felt good. At the first open snowfield below the ridge I stopped to take some photos...Franklin passed me some sunscreen and the group watched as his lens cap skitted downhill first like a snow saucer then it was up on its edge careening downhill before it dove into the trees below. Franklin headed down to look for it but didn't have any luck finding it. Then it was up the rest of the ridge where at the junction it was time for a very short break. First awesome views over to Hurricane Ridge and deeper into the park.

We followed the short little spur trail about 400' and continued up into the open bowl below Mt Angeles. I arrived to find the snowshoers in the group dropped the snowshoes to beat a path uphill. Crusty snow...hmmm...crampons. Yeah...for me a definite. I'm glad I put them on lower.

Stefan (?) lead the way up the *obvious* gulley and the group follow upwards. About 200' below the summit...the gulley got a little more than tricky. A few in group transitioned to the rock buttress and managed to scramble to the top. Most of us began a long 100' downclimb in not very pleasant conditions. It's not a comfortable feeling being on a few inches of crusted snow over rock trying to plant an ice axe only to have it bounce off the rock. In the downclimb section cartman thankfully did a slight detour around the worst section creating better boot buckets. Thanks!

Ick...My quads were exhausted from the downclimb. Good to know I still had it in me to do something of this sorts but my legs were tired. I still had the steep descent. The gully turned out to be the wrong gulley. From the basin head up but traverse around to the left and a much easier gulley awaits. The group tells me it was the preferred approach. I headed back down to the flat area and could see at the party on the summit was celebrating (quite the party I heard).

Franklin and Carrie did check out a steep gulley system on the east side, but decided better skiing on the west and ended up following the rest of the group down, retracing our route up.

Stefan had stashed a scooter (yes...a scooter) and rode back down to the car. Franklin managed to ski all the way back down to the car and then drove back up the road offering rides back down to the parking area. Here...Stefan presented him with the lens cap he lost earlier that morning (he found it on his way down).

Then it was time to head back up to the visitor center for one last birthday celebration before heading back home.
Mt Angeles Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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